There are numerous areas within society where the intervention of man has created a safer, better environment. One could argue that the most important intervention is the construct of structures with the sole purpose of preventing or mitigating the damages caused by flooding. Flood control is the process of reducing the effects that flooding has on towns, villages, and other municipalities by hard or soft engineering methods.
What is the difference between hard and soft engineering?
Hard engineering refers to defenses created using technology and structures to control bodies of water such as rivers and to reduce flooding. These structures can include dams, dikes, levees, floodwalls, and other types of barriers. These are typically constructed from concrete with some type of steel reinforcement and the structural designs are mapped out by a civil engineering company. Soft engineering refers to the process of stabilizing embankments and shorelines to reduce erosion. This is often executed on the shorelines of rivers and increases safety as well as preserves the ecosystem. An example of soft engineering could be something such as a beach replenishment.
Why is flood control important?
Flooding is one of the most expensive natural phenomena in the United States due to its overwhelming power and destructiveness. Flood control is a necessary precautionary measure to ensure that the damages caused by flooding are kept at to the bare minimum. Moreover, they prevent any development or urbanization into unsafe floodplains and protect the lives and property of those who reside in floodplains. Financially, they reduce the burden placed on municipalities and communities where flood damages are extensive and frequent. They also help ensure that there is fresh, uncontaminated water suitable for drinking.
Civil engineers understand the importance of controlling floods and water overflow, which is why they go to such great lengths to do so. Similarly, these entities also manage transportation planning, roadway design, and much more all in the name of keeping society moving as it should. Unfortunately, America’s infrastructures are failing at an alarming rate and over 4,095 of dams in the U.S. were considered “unsafe” by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Thus, the reliance on civil engineers to correct and stabilize America’s infrastructure is higher now than ever.